When my clients asked me to build a curved deck on the riverbank behind their home in Van Buren, Mo., I designed the multi-tiered, 1,500-square-foot structure shown here. At the level of the backyard, two decked areas—one with a hot tub and the other with seating—flank a nine-step stair (photo, left) that fans out as it descends to a lower deck overlooking the Current River. From there, stairs along the inside of the skirting (photo, bottom) lead the rest of the way down the bank to a wood-veneered concrete dock on the river’s edge.
Anchoring the deck to the steep slope are four rows of seven 2x2x2 footings spaced 6 feet apart and the dock, which is reinforced with steel and tied into the bottom main post supports. On the dock, two planters filled with gravel and topped with large decorative stones also help keep things in place.
All the wood (including the dock veneer) is standard treated lumber, sealed with a clear finish. To bend the doubled 2x12 rim joists, I made relief cuts 1 inch on-center and 3/4 inch deep in the back of each board, then hooked a strap to the ends and slowly tightened it, watching and listening to the wood—and staying out of the way in case anything broke. After securing the curves with cross-boards, I installed the floor joists, keeping them uniform by adjusting the curve with the framing. We matched the rim’s radius when cutting 2x12s for the railings and trim.
The skirting is 5/4 by 6-inch decking placed vertically and held by blocking at 45° to the curved rim joist. The Current River floods frequently (it even flooded during the build), sometimes by 20 feet or more, and this design allows floodwaters to pass through, but not large debris that could damage the framing. Plus it creates a cool shadow effect when you pass by in a boat.
We didn’t remove any trees, instead integrating them with the project. They prevent erosion, supply shade, and look great at night with a halogen light wash coming up from below.
Brett Robinson owns BARCO Construction & Design (barcocd.com) in Doniphan, Mo.